Jon works in IT at Bupa and is championing Movember fundraising across Bupa UK.
He is a husband, a father of two, a grandfather of four and a survivor of prostate cancer. He regards himself as ‘lucky’ because a procedure for a common male health complaint revealed something more serious... Jon shares his story below.
The first symptom of something not being quite right was that my urine flow was not as strong as it used to be. As time went by this became more noticeable and the frequency of visiting the loo was increasing. I also started to have the occasional accident. After the fourth accident, I went to see the doctor – dry cleaning was getting expensive!
When I went to see my GP, the ‘c’ word was not in my mind at all. I was 65 at the time, and I thought it was just an ‘old man’ issue. I was initially diagnosed as having an enlarged prostate. About 4 in 10 men over the age of 50, and 3 in 4 men in their 70s have urinary symptoms that are caused by an enlarged prostate, so I wasn’t too worried - having an enlarged prostate does not necessarily mean you have cancer.
My consultant was very thorough and decided he wanted to do an MRI scan on my prostate for good measure – it was during those further tests that he found something. I had prostate cancer. That was a shock.
I was referred on to another consultant who explained that it was quite fixable because the growth had been caught early on.
Within four months of diagnosis I’d had my prostate removed – it was very quick. I was in hospital for two nights. The surgery itself wasn’t painful but I remember the journey home was unpleasant – I felt every bump in the road!
After the surgery I went back for a check up to test my Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. In a healthy man they should be at zero; mine was 10 when I was originally diagnosed. While mine should have been zero, it was unfortunately at three. This meant that I still had some cancerous lymph nodes present so I underwent six weeks’ of radiotherapy.
I get checked every three months and my level is now at 0.1. I also have hormone therapy to minimise the chance of cancer returning.
I’m now a lot freer talking about prostate cancer and men’s health. If I hadn’t been through it I don’t think I’d find it as easy. The big question I get asked is, does it affect your sex life? Well, I did have a sex life but after having my prostate removed it’s zero. But I’d much rather be alive and have a short sex life.
I absolutely consider myself one of the ‘lucky’ ones. If I had not had the urinary problems my cancer would have gone undiscovered, I would almost certainly have been one of the unfortunate 10,000 men who die in the UK each year of prostate cancer.
My advice to other men is to pay attention to any changes in your health – don’t ignore anything unusual and talk openly – the old saying ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved’ is so true. Don’t be shy talking to your GP about any worries; they’re very knowledgeable. And I can’t stress enough how important it is to regularly check yourself.
So, what I am doing about it?
Growing a moustache and hoping that people will ask me ‘why?’ and make a donation.
Encouraging my friends and colleagues to become more aware of the issues – a good starting point is the Bupa UK Health Information Directory.
Sharing my story to help start a conversation about men’s health.